On Thursday, Christophe Decarnin stages his fall 2009 show for Balmain. Attending a Balmain show couldn’t be a more ironic activity in These Times, since it’s unlikely anything coming down the runway will cost less than $1,400. Balmain T-shirts cost $1,500, Balmain jackets cost $5,000 — you’d think cocaine came in the pockets or something. But that’s neither here nor there in this economy, because “Balmania” is sweeping the world, and it is a force more powerful than the credit crisis. Editors love Balmain, retailers love Balmain, and shoppers love Balmain. Jeans priced at £1,060 made headlines and sold out in London. Apparently people are willing to pay that much to be that cool. The buying director of Brown’s boutique in London says the economy has had no effect on sales, calling fall the “best season we’ve had so far.” She said Brown’s has waiting lists and reorders constantly.
While most fashion houses are laying people off, Balmain is expanding. It launched menswear in January, has hired more staff, and is working on a new line of shoes. British Vogue fashion director Kate Phelan calls Balmain “quite trashy, but glamorous — rock ‘n’ roll and sexy,” noting “there’s a lack of that in fashion.” Now we love Balmain as much as the next girl, but here’s where the fashion industry and rich people could stand to look outside of themselves — looking trashy doesn’t have to cost $8,000 an outfit.